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Archive Entries for August 2007

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Friday August 31, 2007

Books in August

August reading:

  • Echo Park Michael Connelly
    After the Lincoln Lawyer, we are back to Harry Bosch. I think I can only agree with the book blurbs and say how Connelly gets better and better. His is somewhat journalistic - which is where his roots are - and this makes for a pleasing economic and evocative style, for those who like a yarn. This story (in common with many in this series over the years now I come to think of it) is an old crime re-investigated, and of course now Harry is in a "cold case" squad this is quite apt! Is it me or are these cold case dramas taking over the crime genre lately? Anyway if they are all as well told as this one I am not complaining.
    [Reinforces to me that Peter Turnbull's style is awful after all... See below].
  • A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away Christopher Brookmyre
    I listened to this as a talking book read by Kenny Blyth. The author's style really lends itself to being read aloud and is enhanced for me hearing the vernacular in the proper accent. I also listened to The Sacred Art of Stealing, which I did not like quite so much as some of his other books - far too much characterisation and not enough plot (!) - but it occurred to me then that it sounded slightly like there was a prequel. Turns out this is it - same heroine (Angelique de Xavia) though wholly different situation - same problem with slightly too much back story for me.
  • False Knight Peter Turnbull
    I originally selected a Peter Turnbull novel on the grounds of it's being a crime genre talking book, and because I mistook his name for that of a another author (!). The first book was "Reality Checkpoint" and I felt a bit lukewarm about it - mostly as I became increasingly irritated by the slow elderly reading style (Who, pray, pronounces "cassette" in two distinct long syllables, the first to rhyme with cat?). I am obviously ageist here, but the whole style of the book seemed very dated - partly appealing and partly wearyingly slow **. Anyway I now discover that the author is not too far from my own age so I'll shut up. I liked the happy ending....
    This book proved better, mainly I think due to a different reader. The two books I have listened to do seem to dwell rather unpleasantly on the black serial killer aspects, and as this neither adds to the tension (compare Mark Billingham) nor the humour (Christopher Brookmyre) I feel I could do without it. But then the book would be short. I guess that's why I'm not an author.
    ** I have just read an amusing review of one of his books which actually pretty well captures my own negative views but much more coherently (that's why I'm not an author!). "Welcome to Peter Turnbull's world, where things never 'are' they 'reveal themselves to be'.", and, when "...[the hero]'s wife died she didn't just drop dead, she 'was seen to collapse', as if had not some passersby been there to see it, she might not have died after all...".
  • Miss Marple's Final Cases Agatha Christie
    This is an unabridged talking book of short stories read by Joan Hickson. It includes: "The man found dying in the church sanctuary", "The puzzle of Uncle Henry's hidden legacy", "The baffling mystery of the stabbing of Mrs Rhodes", "The question of the murderer with the tape-measure", "The case of Mrs Skinner's maid", and "The curious conduct of the caretaker".
    Perfect accompaniment to sock knitting.

Posted on August 31, 2007 at 8:04 AM. Category: Books of the Month.

Tuesday August 21, 2007


Rowan sneaked out their Winter magazine without my noticing. Rushed off to get my copy today, and found it a bit disappointing - I don't want to be disloyal as I love their books whether to my taste or not, but periodically we get this kind of Lopi, Scandinavian, shapeless, Big Wool stuff which does not really lend itself to my size or shape (or taste).
[I notice they've brought out a whole book of the stuff called "New Shapes" - I will just stick with my old shape for now, I think].

Nonetheless, I seem to have managed to put markers on half a dozen pages. I did like a cushion - and then found it took about 8 balls of wool, which means I would have to really like it. And I was attracted to a long coat (Doon), but this would mean endless knitting in Kid Classic - so again - I would really have to want it. The truth is that you only ever want to knit a couple of the things, so the overall style of the book probably doesn't matter. The thing I really intend to knit (after the long list of stuff I have already stashed for) is Bridges - also kid classic - hopefully quick to do, following a theme I have noticed, and suitable for smoothing out that bulging waistline, - and giving the Short Person a Long Line.... hmm...

Narvik.jpg It all reminds me of the stuff I was doing in the 1980s - when the idea of spinning first appealed. Looking again, it strikes me that some of the items might well be suitable for those first lumpy efforts at spinning. I am embarrassed to admit I liked Narvik (right) - which is made of simple square shapes in different colours (any colour as long as it's grey) and definitely has possibilities... if I ever spin anything in time for such up-to-the-minute styling. Athough I don't believe in going out of my way to make stuff in which I look horrid, I live in hope of avoiding the (inevitable?) slide into Old Fogeyland, which (oddly) is worse than the prospect merely dressing badly.

OK - this item has nothing to do with the title I've given it which is actually a knitting technique rather like Fair Isle but the two strands of wool are the same colour rather than contrasting. Get it? No? O well read this...
I just liked the name, and it evokes all that Nordic stuff. Mmm.

Posted on August 21, 2007 at 11:05 PM. Category: Knitting.

Sunday August 19, 2007


I have had a rather more exciting 2 days than I planned. On our way back to Boulogne to catch the ferry on Friday, we got about half way to Caen when George was finally overcome by fearsome pains in his stomach. He had slight indigestion since about mid morning and we had left at about 3:30pm with me in the driving seat - but an hour later he was screaming in pain and (thank heaven for sat nav) I drove to the nearest hospital which turned out to be about 10 km away at Aunay sur Odon.

He was in such distress that they immediately whacked in a drip and did a cardiogram - which was fine - and then went on to X-rays and ultra sound. Fortunately during the X-rays his spasms abated and the pain with them. Despite our limitations in language we managed to communicate and they managed to convey all the information. They could see he had some blockage in his intestine and called an ambulance to take him to CHU in Caen (with a view to maybe having to operate!) I pottered after him with the car.

At Caen he was admitted through A&E again. What a difference at Caen - it was very busy with trollies stacked up all over the place - amazing at how they dealt steadily with it all. Lots of foreigners, lots of youthful people having limbs Xrayed, one amusing drunk strapped down in an examination room determinedly calling for another drink....

  smileyinbed.gif   [There would be a picture here of George on his A&E trolley but he made it plain that I might be the one needing surgery if I tried taking one at this point]

George saw a surgeon pretty quickly - lots of amusement with our pocket dictionary and the doctor looking up words like pee, poo, and fart, none of which appeared either in that form or more polite versions. Finally he had another X-ray, and they decided he had to be admitted, but had to wait for a bed. By this time it was about 1am. I hung on there until 4am, and then went to sleep in the car for a few hours. At 8am, they moved him to a bed in the main hospital and I joined him there. By this time he felt fine and, in rebellious mood, just wanted to leave. The doctors again arrived quite quickly and told him relatively good news. He would have another X-ray, and if all was still well with him (no more pain) he would have a light lunch, and if he kept all that down for 4 hours, we could go. Hurrah - no surgery.

This all panned out as hoped and we left at about 5:30. We managed to book the Fast Cat from Cherbourg for expediency (costing lots as it's summer of course) and were home again by midnight...


Every moment I was left to my own devices I fell asleep, and still slept for about 8 hours once I got home. George is also very tired as, although in a bed all the time, it was hard for him to sleep properly. He seems pretty fit at the moment and eating normally.

I missed my workshop on Saturday but we made it to the family party at Lyn's today. My cousin Jenny and her family are off to stay at La Gonfrairie and we had to issue them with the keys and reams of instructions, which I'm sure they don't need. I hope the weather is good for them and they have a lovely time - Jenny is so excited.

Posted on August 19, 2007 at 9:01 PM. Category: France.

Thursday August 16, 2007

Wool gathering

Went out with Ava and Peter this evening and was given two fleeces (from Willow and Parsnip I think). They are economically squashed into one plastic sack for travel. The sheep are Suffolks; I am making a note of it here as I keep forgetting.

Posted on August 16, 2007 at 10:55 PM. Category: France.

Les Cascades de Mortain

On advice, (from the relatives), we went to see the waterfalls at Mortain. They are in full flow this summer because of the unusually high rainfall (have I mentioned that before?!). And jolly splendid they were too.

We parked the car on the road at the head of the Grande Cascade and walked alongside them down the river. It is well-known for its rhododendrons - but they are more in evidence earlier in the year.


We then followed the pedestrian route through Neufbourg to the Petite Cascade, (noting the enticing petition on the gate and in the window of one house in the town of "CHATONS A DONNER" - then swiftly moving on). My photo is not so good as I stayed at the top of the "small" waterfall - you can see the intrepid explorer - a tiny speck in yellow in the bottom the left corner of the picture - who went to look but failed to tell me how pretty the view from below was - more of a waterfall than the raging torrent of the "big" one. It is part of the River Cançon, a tributary of the Cance, and is renowned for its peace and tranquility. Here is my rubbish view from the top:


Here is the lovely view taken by the intrepid explorer at the base of the fall:


Somewhere George said that the river Cance gets its name from its golden colour. I can find no other reference to this but include the evidence here, just in case its true. The water was very churned up due to the fast flow of the water.




Posted on August 16, 2007 at 7:49 PM. Category: France.

Tuesday August 14, 2007


Life here is the same as ever - which is Good.

Here we see stick-obsessed Tilly. She is so keen to play this game that immediately she spots a likely playmate (any human with a pulse), she searches for some kind of stick. The "stick" is sometimes a blade of grass, and sometimes an apple.... here, though, she has really excelled herself.


I finally remembered to take a picture of the raspberry bed to show you how much they have grown since April:


There has not been such a bumper crop of raspberries this year, though. This may have been our pruning at the wrong time, or it may have been the weather, which seems to have suited some fruits but not others; there is another set of canes elsewhere in the garden which seem equally fruit-free. Here are a few - you can see I ate the ripe one!


And the very last of the foxgloves:


Posted on August 14, 2007 at 1:12 PM. Category: France.

Sunday August 12, 2007


We arrived at La Gonfrairie at about 4am Saturday morning. There was some sleeping, and then some shopping, but no cooking, as Lloyd asked us to join him for a Barbecue.

His sister is staying with her two boys, (who are 4 and 8, and pretty cute if a little boisterous - like the dogs...), and he invited a few more people, most of whom are common acquaintances. Raoul, the local vet, joined us for a short while, but, before he could eat, he was called away to do his duty by a sick cow. We saved him some food.... the moules and mackerel were ....mmmmm....

Posted on August 12, 2007 at 11:06 AM. Category: France.

Friday August 10, 2007

Bonita update.


I finally got round to adding the shell decoration to Bonita. I found a suitable necklace in Accessorize and cannibalised it. I was unsure about whether I really wanted it like this or not, so I have made the necklace detachable - so it can be either a "normal" little knitted top, or something more for the evening perhaps. Having tried it, I now think it looks very pretty.

Posted on August 10, 2007 at 8:24 PM. Category: Knitting.

Wednesday August 8, 2007


At the group dinner in Montpellier I sat with Randy - an American colleague of many years standing - and in passing he mentioned 711 stores in the US not really living up to their name any more (in that they open all hours and not just 7am until 11pm). This led me to tell him about my first time in California in the 1980s, and that I really did not connect "711" with the hours of opening. I am still not sure when I even finally made the connection. However at the time, all it reminded me of was Auntie Glad and a perfume from years ago called "4711". I remember it on her dressing table with its pretty blue and gold label - and how my Mother was a bit scornful of it (I think she thought it a bit old fashioned, preferring Lanvin's Arpège).

As often happens, not a week or so later, I was browsing my 1937 Stitchcrafts and found a full page advert in the Christmas edition, which I reproduce here for your delight. In the 1960s it had a catchy TV jingle as well.

These 4711 products were by no means inexpensive (see footnote **). See the cologne is ten shillings and sixpence - which is half a guinea. Although this translates to only 52.5p today, it is hard to provide a true view of the value, even if you tried taking inflation into account it would be perhaps twenty or thirty pounds - in fact just about the price of perfumes today.

However this does not give a true view of an average person's ability to afford it, compared with today. Years ago, people could live on very little money for food and rent, and "luxury" goods were relatively a lot more expensive, whereas now it is possible to own TVs and mobile phones even when you are really quite poor. You could say for example, that in the 1960s you started work at 17 on a salary of about 7/6 a week, (living at home with Mum and Dad) - so this perfume exceeded a week's wage. Looking at starting salaries today, this makes the perfume about £500. So even though my salary may be only 10 times what it was in the 1970s, my relative ability to buy perfume is far more than 10 times.

Lets not even start on why "luxury" goods are relatively so much cheaper for us today....

**Footnote: I am amused to find that this perfume is still available today, is not so very expensive, (around £9 for 50ml), and there is a wealth of fascinating information on its origins.

Posted on August 8, 2007 at 8:17 PM. Category: Oddments and stray thoughts.

Saturday August 4, 2007

More heartless beauties for the thinking woman.

Every day new hydrangea bushes start flowering - or so it seems. This one is always very rewarding, not being deprived of water on a regular basis in the normal course of events, even in normal weather.

Then there's my clematis - designed to grow around the bird feeder (not needed in summer). I always thought this was a "Ville de Lyon" (based on memory of the label when I bought it!) - and I used to have one in another garden. However looking at web entries on the subject I am now not sure.
These flowers represent pure thoughts, or beauty of the mind, (which is odd as they are very beautiful on the outside and I don't think they'll be too insulted if I suggest they do not have a mind...).

clematis1.jpg clematis2.jpg

Posted on August 4, 2007 at 3:19 PM. Category: The Garden.